What’s On …

Just a few little notes about what’s on my playlist, my nightstand, and my stove these days.

On my playlist: The other night I was looking for some music to listen to while Mike and I cooked dinner. I asked if he had any suggestions, and he threw out The Barenaked Ladies. Do you ever sort of forget about an album only to stumble on it again and be totally transported? Their album Stunt was on heavy rotation in the first apartment I lived in post-college, and Rock Spectacle was the first gift I gave Mike when we started dating some 15-some years ago. Listening makes me grateful for the memories, and simultaniously grateful for today.

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On Cozy Coffeeshops & Other People’s Love Stories …

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Last Saturday I had a book signing about forty-five minutes away in Fredericksburg, Virginia, at the coziest little coffee shop ever, Agora Downtown Coffee. The shop is co-owned by sisters, one of whom bakes amazing things and the other who is the biggest champion for local artists ever (as well as a talented artist and craftsperson, herself). In the short time I was there, the sisters’ father and brother stopped by and introduced themselves, a local business owner bought me a cup of coffee because he “knew how hard I worked”, a designer complemented my book covers, and countless folks smiled and wished me well. Continue reading

The Grateful List: 2013

Grateful 2013

Last year I wrote about all the little things I was thankful for.  This year I’m going for just one big one: family. My definition of which is pretty broad; could be the one you’re born into or the one you marry into.  It’s also the beautiful family of friends you make for yourself.  Sometimes it’s simply that group of people you stumble into at exactly the right moment.

I would love to hear about your family, however you define it,  in the comments below.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Above, I’ve pictured just a few members of my family (clockwise from right to left): 1) Family of VA & NJ friends in NYC  2) Going on 37 years of friendship 3) Best friend and family (Mr. Escobar) 4) Cousins!  5) More cousins! (and parents & grandparents, too) 6) Family by marriage (and horses!) 7) Pretty sure we have a similar picture from about age 5  8) Write Club (minus one, she’s there in spirit)

To My Feet, With Love

Yesterday, I found myself walking around the city alone in the middle of the day.  It reminded me of a time, nearly eleven years ago, when I first moved here.  I was working retail and found myself home during the day more than I do now.  Since it wasn’t prudent to add a gym membership to my already just barely keeping it together budget, I would go on long walks.  The memory of these walks opened the floodgates.  Turns out I’ve taken a lot of beautiful walks in my life. It seems only appropriate to give credit where credit’s due. Thus . . .  Continue reading

Small Gratitude

I try to start most days reflecting on the things that I am thankful for. Things like a spouse that loves, supports, inspires and challenges me. Parents who invested the time and patience to love consistently and genuinely. Who supported me in becoming authentically me. That I married into family full of love, without tension. The years I have had with my grandparents. Large gatherings with extended family. Quiet conversations and loud laughter with friends as close as family. My health. Work I enjoy. Food. Shelter. Time to write.

These are certainly the things that ground me. The ones that can help turn around those inevitable days that I feel too something. Too busy. Too tired. Too uncomfortable in my own skin. Too restless. Too uninspired. Too scared.

But there are also other things. Small things that sometimes get lost in all that too something-ness. So on this quiet Thanksgiving morning I’m taking a minute to be grateful for a few of them.

  • the delicious english muffin I just ate
  • orange marmalade
  • butter
  • locally roasted coffee
  • the North Park University mug (from a friend as close as family) that I’ve used for years
  • fuzzy socks
  • pajama pants
  • holidays and lazy mornings
  • Rhapsody
  • e-mail/social media
  • blogs
  • having one car (being able to walk to work/food/fun)
  • craft beer
  • home brew
  • local restaurants
  • movies
  • plays
  • pretty dresses
  • consignment shops
  • complicated recipes
  • beautiful words

Happy Thanksgiving!

On Blogging

I’ve been blogging for about eight months now and should confess that I started the whole thing with a bit (by which I mean, a lot) of skepticism. It was something I mostly thought I should do. I am a writer, writers have blogs; therefore so shall I. Needless to say “should” is rarely a good reason to do anything. But in this case it has turned out brilliantly.

I’ve been in a bit of an in-between;  finished one project with no immediate ideas for a new one. But I need to write. It is my balance, my gravity. And so I have blogged. And I have really, truly enjoyed it.  Not for one moment has it felt like a should-y chore.  I can now honestly say I blog because I like to blog.  Period.

The other extremely pleasant surprise that has come out of blogging is the generosity of other bloggers.  Of course I intellectually understood the concept of keeping an online journal that anyone can read; but I’m not sure I ever really thought about the idea of a community of bloggers.  The fact that people would like things you have written.  Choose to follow your every post.  Offer encouraging comments.

They’re all busy with things like starting a brewery , practicing down to earth yogadealing with a loved one’s illness  and growing old gracefully.  And yet each one of these fellow bloggers (among many others) has taken time, not only to share their thoughts and words and emotions; but to appreciate mine.  And that is what has made this experience downright amazing!

Giving

This morning I had my heart set on an ice coffee from the shop around the corner, but I knew it wouldn’t cost enough to meet the $3.00 credit card minimum, so I added one of their amazing pastries to my order.  Since I had already eaten breakfast, I slid the apple-y delicious-ness into my lunchbox to save for tomorrow’s breakfast.  When I got to work my co-worker mentioned that she needed to get something to eat, but wasn’t sure what she wanted.  I immediately produced the “extra” pastry from my lunchbox and it was a match made in heaven.

Last week, one of my students gave me a card thanking me for all my help this semester and for being an important part of his academic journey.

Thinking about these two things I am struck by how easy those little tangible gifts are for me.  A cup of coffee for a friend, a pack of gum for my husband; little things picked up as I move through my day.  And I am humbled by my student’s decision to write a note; to pause for a few minutes and write about his gratefulness.  Because in this world of clocks and deadlines and twitter feeds and status updates and quick coffee breaks it seems that sometimes we forget to pause and offer a genuine “thank you.”

Often, it is the best gift we can give.